Bremerhaven Germany with Kids

We recently had the pleasure of hosting my freshman college roommate and her family for the weekend in Bremerhaven.

Stefanie and family. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Stefanie and family. The younger kid could have chosen a larger stuffed animal at the zoo but she told her dad that this one was all alone on the shelf so she chose him. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

My friend Stefanie and I met thirty-one years ago when we were matched as roommates at LaGrange College in southwestern Georgia. Stefanie was a foreign student from Germany and I was a crazy girl from Delaware.

Stefanie and Dragonfly. Photo by Andreas Muenchow
Stefanie and Dragonfly. We both became high school teachers and had a lot to talk about.Photo by Andreas Muenchow

Surprisingly, I was already friends with her cousin who was studying at the University of Delaware. (Small world) I only attended LaGrange for a year, but Stefanie and I kept in touch. When I was studying Art in Wolverhampton, England in 1991 I visited her and her family in Germany on my spring break and Andreas and I were able to visit her during our travels in Germany Christmas 2017.

Luckily, she is not too far away in Bonn and was able see us with her husband and two girls ages five and eight. The older one loves all animals, especially horses and the younger one loves speed and sport.

Swashbuckling on the dike. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Three kids swashbuckling on the dike. Andreas’ way of keeping the kids busy. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Library books, a book about the animals in the zoo by gallery owner Fernando Valero and paper and pencils were my way of keeping kids busy.
Library books, a book about the animals in the zoo by gallery owner Fernando Valero and paper and pencils were my way of keeping kids busy.

We had a wonderful weekend seeing the Harbor through their eyes. The Harbor area was so fun for them we never made it to town.

Playground by the zoo. This girl loves all animals, even if they're wooden statues. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Playground by the zoo. This girl loves all animals, even if they’re wooden statues. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Sitting under a docked ship for shade eating ice cream. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Sisters sitting under a docked ship for shade eating ice cream. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Proudly wearing a maple seed on the nose while the adults enjoy boring things like coffee and beer. at the Waserschout. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Proudly wearing a maple seed on the nose while the adults enjoy boring things like coffee and beer. at the Wasserschout. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Andreas' Birkenstocks, sticky from and earlier Sprite spillage at the Waserschout get a proper burial in the sand. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Andreas’ Birkenstocks, sticky from an earlier Sprite soda spillage at the Waserschout, get a proper burial in the sand. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Mike burying the kids.
Mike burying the kids.
Stuck! Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Stuck! Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
In Bremerhaven when the tide goes out on the Weser River you play in the mud. Andreas spent many days playing in the mud in Denmark as a child and had to share in the fun with the girls. Yuck! Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
In Bremerhaven when the tide goes out on the Weser River you play in the mud. Andreas spent many days playing in the mud in Denmark as a child and had to share the fun with the girls. Yuck! Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Green Weserstrand mud everywhere. Happy kids. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Green Weser River mud everywhere. Happy kids. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Cleaned up, in pjs and exhausted after a fun day. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Cleaned up, in pjs and exhausted after a fun day. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Sunday morning pancakes with Andreas. The girls helped with the cooking and got a few math lessons with blueberries. We also know Andreas' secret ingredient now thanks to the eight year olds sensitive nose. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Sunday morning pancakes with Andreas. The girls helped with the cooking and got a few math lessons with blueberries. We also know Andreas’ secret ingredient now thanks to the eight year old’s sensitive nose. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
The girls added blueberries, raspberries and strawberries to their pancake creations. When the sat down to eat they asked for plain pancakes instead. Ha ha Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
The girls added blueberries, raspberries and strawberries to their pancake creations. When they sat down to eat they asked for plain pancakes instead. Ha ha Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Next was the Bremerhaven zoo. Five year old asks who wants to look at an old bird when there are pumas over there! Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Next was the Bremerhaven Zoo. Five year old asks who wants to look at an old bird when there are pumas over there! Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Andreas and I are now up to date on the latest in toy technology including Tiptoi. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Andreas and I are now up to date on the latest in toy technology including Tiptoi. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Stefanie and family brought us a big mystery box of Haribo seconds from the Haribo outlet store in Bonn. We sent them home with our Christmas tree for their garden and Michelle Obama's book in English. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Stefanie and family brought us a big mystery box of Haribo seconds from the Haribo outlet store in Bonn. We sent them home with our Christmas tree for their garden and Michelle Obama’s book in English. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Definitely mystery gummies.
Definitely mystery gummies.
Best gift of all.
Best gift of all.
This is Andreas fifteen minutes after everyone left. I fell asleep after I took the photo and we napped for two hours. Stefanie, I don't know how you and Mike do it. We had a super fun time and we can't wait to visit with all of you again!
This is Andreas fifteen minutes after everyone left. I fell asleep after I took the photo and we napped for two hours. Stefanie, I don’t know how you and Mike do it. We had a super fun time and we can’t wait to visit with all of you again!

Guest Artist in Bremerhaven Germany

Greeting the students from Berufsbildende Schulen Sophie School at Art Impressions Gallery Bremerhaven, Germay. Photo by Christiane Matthai
Greeting the students from Geschwister Scholl Schule at Art Impressions Gallery Bremerhaven, Germany. Photo by Christiane Matthäi

My Germany bucket/wish list for this sabbatical year is checked off. I created a new body of work, had an art exhibit, and last week I was given the opportunity to speak to five high school art classes. I was also invited to visit their school and interact with the students as they worked on their projects.

An Art classroom at the Berufsbildende Schulen Sophie School. The students are working on sculpture projects. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
An Art classroom at the Geschwister Scholl Schule. Main class, 5 hours of art during the week. The students are working on sculpture projects. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
End of the year art instructor's desk. True anywhere. Ha ha. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
End of the year art instructor’s desk. True anywhere. Ha ha. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

Since I’m an art instructor in America and students in Germany study English, I thought it would be fun to visit a class to show them my artwork and have conversations in English. Through my show at Art Impressions Gallery I became friendly with the gallery owner, Fernando Valero who invited me to his garden birthday party. There I met local high school art teacher, Christiane Matthai who teaches at the Geschwister Scholl Schule in Bremerhaven. I told her I was interested in speaking to students and she not only brought her students to my exhibit but invited me to her classroom.

Art instructor Christiane Matthai offering a funny suggestion for her students project. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Art instructor Christiane Matthäi offering a funny suggestion for her students project. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Art instructor Christiane Matthai giving one on one help to a student. The antlers on the table are made with a glue gun and painted. It's all glue. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Art instructor Christiane Matthai giving one on one help to a student. The antlers on the table are made with a glue gun and painted. They’re all glue. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

Both experiences were wonderful. At the gallery I spoke about the theme for my show and then a little bit about each work individually. I shared my inspiration for the images and the watercolor and watercolor pencil techniques used in rendering them.

Speaking about my inspiration and technique. Photo by Christiane Matthai
Speaking about my inspiration and technique. Photo by Christiane Matthai

I showed a Power Point presentation that I prepared on the Ship last summer for the scientists about the other art mediums I work in, and about my past artistic and work experiences. I wanted the students to know that I haven’t made a career out of painting old women in diners, I also paint goats on skateboards, make stained glass windows from garbage and drive an Art Car.

Explaining my past and current work with a Power Point presentation. Art Impressions Gallery owner, Fernando Valero Delgado stands in the right of the photo. Photo by Christiane Matthai
Explaining my past and current work with a Power Point presentation. Art Impressions Gallery owner, Fernando Valero stands in the right of the photo. Photo by Christiane Matthäi

I really enjoyed each class. I was curious about the similarities and differences I would observe comparing German kids to American kids. No differences I could see or sense bar one and that was that the German students showed more independence. The teacher was recently sick and I asked her if she had to pay for her substitute like the teachers do in California. She said that that subs are not hired for high school classes. Her students acquired the key for the room, worked independently and cleaned up after themselves. That was shocking to me. I could see how it was possible though after spending time in her classroom. I observed the students set up their projects, work independently when their teacher wasn’t giving them one on one time, and clean up their area. They spoke to each other quietly and worked steadily throughout the long class period without need for redirection.

Student working on her Louise Bourgeois inspired sculpture. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Student working on her Louise Bourgeois inspired sculpture. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
The student's assignment was to begin with a plate and incorporate that into their sculpture. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
The student’s assignment was to begin with a plate and incorporate that into their sculpture. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

The German student’s clothing, shoes, hair styles and demeanor were so similar to my students. I told them if I saw them in America I would never guess that they were from Germany unless they spoke to me. It’s interesting how access to the internet is changing design cross culturally. Also, their English vocabulary and pronunciation was very good; better than they think it is.

Listening to what the students like about the work and answering questions. Photo by Christiane Matthai
Listening to what the students like about the work and answering questions. Photo by Christiane Matthäi

I feel very lucky to be given this experience and hope to work with Christiane again during our future visits.

A Wonderful gift for my time from teacher and students. All things from the fair trade store. Very sweet of them!
A Wonderful gift for my time from teacher and students. All things from the fair trade store. Very sweet of them!

 

Delaware Artist exhibits in Bremerhaven Germany

Newark, Delaware artist Dragonfly Leathrum exhibits in Dragonfly Germany. WHAT?!? Ha ha, seen here enjoying her show through wine goggles. Selfie by Dragonfly Leathrum
Newark, Delaware artist Dragonfly Leathrum exhibits in Bremerhaven Germany. WHAT?!? Ha ha, seen here enjoying her show through wine goggles. Selfie by Dragonfly Leathrum

Newark, Delaware artist Dragonfly Leathrum exhibits new work in Bremerhaven Germany. The artist exhibited seventeen watercolor and colored pencil paintings and thirteen pencil and colored pencil drawings. All artwork was created in an eight-month time span while on sabbatical.

Exhibits in Germany, thirty works created in eight months, watercolor paintings? Who is this person? Me? How did that happen? If someone had read that first paragraph to me two years ago and said that’s going to be you, I wouldn’t have believed them. I would have said that it sounds even more far fetched than some of the goals I set for myself in my sketchbook. If you follow this blog you know how this happened. If not, the cliff note version is that I met a wonderful German/ American Oceanographer just shy of two years ago. We started dating, fell in love moved in together, moved to Germany for a sabbatical, and got married. For the detailed version of that journey see previous posts.

Portrait of Andreas Muenchow pencil on paper 8x11" in the National Cafe' Bremerhaven Germany. Drawing and photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Portrait of Andreas Muenchow pencil on paper 8×11″ in the National Cafe’ Bremerhaven Germany. Drawing and photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

So here I am in Germany for a year and I have the freedom for the first time in my life to dedicate most of my time to creating art, but my studio and supplies are in Newark, Delaware. I can’t paint in acrylics or oils and I can’t create stained glass windows (or can I?) without a large investment in new supplies, and then how do I ship them home? My solution to this first world, artist problem was to switch to watercolors and colored pencils. This worked well on our research trip in the Arctic and has been a wonderful solution to creating new work quickly that is easy to ship and can also fit in a suitcase.

Studio space aboard the FS Maria S. Merian in the Greenland Sea. Just enough space for a little box of watercolors and some colored pencils. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Studio space aboard the FS Maria S. Merian in the Greenland Sea. Just enough space for a little box of watercolors and some colored pencils. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

My art goals during my stay in Bremerhaven were to 1. Practice a drawing/ painting skill that I want to improve on for future work, 2. Create a new/full body of work with one theme, in one medium that I can exhibit when I return to the States and 3. Icing on the cake, and a dream, to have a show in Germany.

One thing I've improved upon is transferring a small drawing to larger paper using the grid system. I hope this improves my mural painting skills in the future.
One thing I’ve improved upon is transferring a small drawing to larger paper using the grid system. I hope this improves my mural painting skills in the future.

So, what to paint? The blank tablet of watercolor paper asks, “What will it be, ma’am?” I ask myself what would I like to see on the wall? What do other people want to see on their walls? What’s important to document? After a lot of thought I chose to create dining companions. Portraits were my challenge that needed a lot of practice and I enjoy figure drawings more when the background gives some information. I was also a bit lonely. I chose to paint friends, relatives, people from the newspaper, a few faces from online sources and one self-portrait. If the face was interesting and the figures were in a dining situation, I was ready to paint them.

Tourist Diners watercolor and colored pencil 30x40cm. Portraits of Jason and Erin Wright in a Bremerhaven restaurant.
Tourist Diners, watercolor and colored pencil 30x40cm. Portraits of Jason and Erin Wright in a Bremerhaven restaurant.

One theme and all in watercolor with colored pencil. (this is unusual for me) In the few months since I began this project my drawings and paintings have improved with practice which inspires me to keep going.

Now for a show in Germany, I approached a few galleries, some were interested but didn’t have an opening until 2020. By chance I found a gallery close to my neighborhood with an opening in April and I was able to book it. Yay, a show!

20190416_19410820190416_194156

 

Art Impressions Gallery, pencil and colored pencil 8x11"
Art Impressions Gallery, pencil and colored pencil 8×11″

Uh oh…now I need to matte and frame thirty pieces of artwork and I can’t bring these frames home to Delaware. The Owner of Art Impressions Gallery saved me the matting costs by applying for and receiving a grant from the city for exhibiting an international artist. For frames I did something I would never consider doing in Newark and that was to purchase all the frames from IKEA with plexi windows instead of glass.

These IKEA frames aren't so bad from a distance.
These IKEA frames aren’t so bad from a distance.

(I can hear my artist friends and my framer 4000 miles away screaming NO!!! in unison.) Those were not easy to transport on the 505 bus. I will donate them to the gallery or a school when I leave for student artists.

Gallery owner Fernando Valero hangs the show at Art Impressions Gallery. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Gallery owner Fernando Valero hangs the show at Art Impressions Gallery. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

We had the show opening on April 27th 2019, it was a success. Four of the paintings were sold through commission, three sold through social media before the show and two sold opening night. Framing costs covered.

Andreas Muenchow, his mother, Christa in red and our wonderful Landlords from Peace4you at the opening at Art Impressions. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Andreas Muenchow, his mother, Christa in red and our wonderful Landlords from Peace4you at the opening at Art Impressions. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Andreas' father with his portrait. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Andreas’ father with his portrait. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

The local newspaper covered the show twice and I’m looking forward to two art classes from the local high school to visit the show next week.

An article about the show from Der Nordsee-Zeitung
An article about the show from Der Nordsee-Zeitung

My next goal is to complete at least three more paintings before mid-July and to apply for a grant through the Delaware Division of the Arts.

Traveling Diner, self-portrait watercolor and colored pencil 30x40cm
Traveling Diner, self-portrait watercolor and colored pencil 30x40cm